saata VOL: 2, ISSUE: 1 - JANUARY 2018 facebook

SAATA ITAA Conference-2016 team
The Relationship Garden - Sheena Yusuf home
Kousalya-Karthikeyan Sheena Yusuf is a professional certified life and relationship coach accredited by the International Coach Federation, USA. She has vast experience in working with women and children with emphasis on addressing issues relating to gender bias in both personal and work environments. Having recently moved base from the UAE to India, she currently practices out of Kochi, Kerala where she also takes up professional photography assignments which often plays as an additional tool in her coaching practice.

My Right-Brained friend was trying to convince her Left-Brained husband that they needed to work on their relationship, in the most non-intimidating and inviting way possible. She knew that she would shut him off if she came on too strong. In her attempt to avoid words like communication, intimacy, connection, nurturing etc., she decided to get creative and brought in the analogy of a plant. She pointed to a plant in the living room and told him, "Imagine this plant as our relationship, we got this plant together and now we have it in our home. This plant has been neglected for a long time. If we don't care for the plant, it will wither and eventually die. The plant needs sunlight, water and nourishment. So, it's up to us to take on that job, if we want to keep the plant healthy and alive". She thought she was doing a great job until she saw the puzzled look on his face. After what seemed like a long pause he pointed to the plant and asked her, "Why do we have this plant here anyway? Whose idea was it to buy it? You know I don't care too much about plants! If it dies, let's just get another one!" There ended that conversation. It just flew over his head. I don't think she went that route again.

Jokes apart, I have often compared a relationship to a garden. When two people come together it's like growing a garden together. A beautiful garden, that brings joy to their heart, with large beautiful trees, birds, bees, bright beautiful flowers and anything or everything they want in their garden. Initially they love their garden. It's all nice and pretty and caring for it feels like a walk in the park. There is the chemistry, romance, connection and everything that keeps the garden alive. In a lot of relationships, after a period of time, life starts kicking in. Work, responsibilities, children, obligations, illnesses, crises, distractions, expectations, ego etc. get in the way of tending to the garden. Before we know it, the garden begins to wither away, since it is no longer a priority. With outgrown weeds, decomposed plants, the garden looks abandoned and dead from the lack of attention. It is possible that both people involved expected the other to take care of it. Or just foolishly assumed then it would magically remain beautiful forever.

Eventually it comes to a point where it is no longer recognizable. Some of us just suck it up and live with it unhappily. Sometimes it gets to a point where it's too hard to and it seems easier to give it up than to work on it. What would have started out as fear, avoidance, laziness, lack of commitment, overwhelm, lack of time, or lack of responsibility has now resulted in this huge mess. For one, we are not the same people we were, when we started out the relationship. We evolve and transform as time goes by. Familiarity creeps in and we also take the other for granted, which is kind of like a life sentence because there is no room for new or different to grow. What we love in someone is OUR idea of them and not really who they are or who they are capable of being.

When we don't connect to our relationships or work on getting to discover each other, we might soon get to that place where we would have grown in different directions into strangers who don't recognize each other. Crazy thing is we assume relationships are like a one-time investment. Once it's all done or made, we assume we can sit back and cash in the rewards for the rest of our lives. I don't believe it works like that.

I have a personal curiosity about why people come into relationships, even those who choose to be in marriages or significant relationships. Do you choose them because you really want to be in a relationship consciously or are you following to or conforming the default social construct? I see many people continue on in their unhappy relationships without making any changes for years. By changes, I mean either working on it, or worst comes to worst, walking away. I wonder what need is being met in maintaining status quo. Wouldn't everyone want to be in a nurturing and loving relationship? If the basic need for every human being is unconditional love, why do we suffer and make people in our lives suffer too?

Coming back to my garden analogy. Each of us bring in our personal baggage into that garden, when we come into relationships; our limiting beliefs, fears, blocks, perceptions, attitudes, our view of the world etc. and we function from there. We accept and hold our baggage as the truth, but are not tolerant to another's. That's like saying "my mess is better than your mess". We don't accept and celebrate differences in each other. It almost becomes a mission to make the other just like us, agree to us, or accept our views. And there lies the challenge.

I believe every person comes to our life as our teacher. We have our lessons to learn from them. When we get stuck in our relationships, one question to ask ourselves is what lesson are we supposed to learn now, regardless of whether we choose to stay or leave. I have also heard that we choose our life partners or they get chosen for us because we have the most to learn from them hence might get triggered by them the most. So, unless we look for those teachings we may continue to live our lives is misery and keep repeating those experiences until we learn our lessons. Sometimes our lessons are to let go and move on.

Apathy and fear can suck the life out of relationships. I have often seen people resigning or giving up, from a place of hopelessness and indifference. The most common language I hear is, "What's the point", "It's not going to work anyway so why bother!", "Nothing will change" We enter wearing pessimism on our sleeve. With the perspective, the battle is lost even before it's fought. How can we invite change when we step into anything believing that nothing will change? The indifference and belief that nothing good is going to come out is actually a mask that hides our unwillingness in addressing something that's hard and challenging for us. It's easier to justify with an excuse like that rather than admitting to ourselves that there is fear involved and we are scared. What we really want to say is "I don't want to because I am afraid, I feel vulnerable and exposed." The only way to work around apathy is connect back to our dream or vision behind the relationship or situation, because they are more powerful than our fears that hold us back.

In some ways, our relationship with others is also a reflection of our relationship with ourselves! At the end of it all it all comes down to creating a deep, intimate, authentic, compassionate and loving relationship with ourselves before we can be in relationship with the world. We begin to ACKNOWLEDGE and APPRECIATE another when are open to appreciating ourselves. Our RESPECT for another is a natural consequence of our respect for ourselves. We can create JOY around us when we are grateful for what we have. True COMPASSION and KINDNESS towards our loved ones comes when we can tap into that compassion and kindness towards ourselves, amidst all our self-judgment and blame. We create that space of FREEDOM around us and for the people we love, when we have given ourselves full permission to be free. How can we truly practice FORGIVENESS if we haven't been humbled by our mistakes and truly forgiven ourselves for it? How can we build TRUST in our relationships without learning to trust and believe in ourselves? When we experience it ourselves we truly understand what it feels like for others. We must first find our way back to ourselves! When we are in the right relationship with ourselves, we will be in the right relationship with the world. It's hard to truly ACCEPT and UNCONDITIONALLY LOVE another unless we understand, love & accept all of ourselves – the good, bad, and ugly.

arr MLL 2018
- Sarmishta Mani
arr The Rewarding CTA Journey
- Karolina Jovanoska
arr The Relationship Garden
- Sheena Yusuf
arr Children-The Magical Beings
- Rajeshwari Bharath
arr A Journey to Discover Self
- Tasnuva Huque

Creative Corner
Mental Health
- Jayashree Swaminathan

The plAyground
- Nandhini Thangavelu



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